This weekend was cause for all sorts of things, most notably San Francisco’s annual Pride celebration on Sunday. It also happened to be the sixth anniversary of the N Judah Chronicles. It still is a little hard to believe an email from 2005 could have led to all of this, but I’ve told that story enough times already. I guess it goes to show you never know what will or will not be popular in a wired city, at least if you’re not thinking to hard when you get started.
It’s definitely been interesting, given my interest in local history, and refining that interest by looking at San Francisco’s past and present from a unique point of view-the history of transport in SF. All because I was wondering why that trip on the N to Safeway was such a pain in the backside. I’ve had the chance to make some really wonderful friends, participate in some great projects online and in print, and gain a little recognition here and there.
San Francisco is a unique place to have a “blog” because so many people are online, and the city isn’t very big, so if you’re writing about the City, chances are you’ll meet some of the people you write about, or follow on blogs, Twitter, etc..
I’ve often joked that if you move to San Francisco, the City Charter requires you sign up for a blog or other online presence as a requirement of any lease or mortgage, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like much of an exaggeration. That is both a good and a bad thing (sometimes one wants to “turn the Internet off” for a day or two and have some quiet) but it does make San Francisco’s online publishing scene/blogosphere/whateverthecoolkids are calling it interesting and far more interactive than in some other cities.
There have been a lot of changes over the last six years as well in online publishing. Technology has changed a lot, which has made an impact. In 2005 there was no Twitter, Facebook was still throwing sheep, most people didn’t have a pocket computer that could make phone calls, and this site called “MySpace” was still around. Today, cell phone cameras take better pictures, there are an array of portable devices for “on the scene” writing/reporting, and getting online away from home is far easier.
These changes are also both good and bad – it’s easier to get the word out about something, but it’s also easier for a lot of garbage to clog the system, and there’s that whole issue about who “owns” the internet, and who gets priority access.
The other thing that has changed has been the “business” of blogging. More blogs in San Francisco (and in general) are part of a larger concern, either by way of a large corporation, or by way of the charity of millionaires, local and from elsewhere. In both cases, these well-funded entities have the resources to pay people full time to write (or in some cases pay nothing and just collect the grant money and the ad revenue), and have the technical resources to keep up with the latest technology. I have an upper limit to how much I can do on the technical side of things, hence why this blog’s look,and the fact it’s running on orphan software (aka Movable Type) is so dated and lacking in function. How long the grant-based sites will last once the money runs out is uncertain, but for now, it’s definitely a challenge.
In contrast, self-funded people like myself don’t have these advantages, and are feeling the pressure from these operations. For several years I was able to subsidize my time because I made more than enough from my job to pay for the time spent away from it to write and research posts, attend events, etc.
As the economy began to turn sour, I have had to spend more time looking for more work, and less time writing, which puts me in a spiral – one loses readers when they do not update regularly, but one can’t write more when they’re getting paid less. That’s why when you buy something from the store, or make a donation, it really does make a difference.
However, despite these, and other challenges, I don’t plan on quitting any time soon, because it’s still something I enjoy doing. (Also, I don’t plan on being driven out of town by outsiders). I’ve had to put on hold several other ideas for online entities that I would like to pursue, but for now I’m treading water and keeping the popular blog up and running. It has been a lot of fun interacting with people on all things San Francisco, and I can’t imagine doing anything else, anywhere else!
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Congratulations on 6 years of NJC. I can’t remember how long I have read it but it must be at least five years. I have you on my desk top and check it everyday. Great info and insights on the “N” and on muni in general. Wish you were better funded but really appreciate what you do with your limited resources and the other demand on your time.
Thanks! It’s a bit tough now because of the economy, but I have some ideas on how to get past it. The fact that it’s lasted this long says a lot though. Most of all, thanks for reading!